FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — During his Thursday press conference, Gov. Andy Beshear signed a proclamation recognizing June 19, also known as Juneteenth, in the state of Kentucky.
"I think it is important that we remind everybody of this dark chapter in our history and that its impact continues to linger, and that we celebrate the dates, at least portions of it, that it ended," Gov. Beshear said.
The proclamation will have to pass in the next general assembly before becoming an official state holiday.
"My commitment is that I am going to ask the legislature to recognize it as a state holiday through legislation," Gov. Beshear explained. "It would have to pass in the next general assembly, but I think it is time. It is the right thing to do."
Before signing the proclamation, Gov. Beshear explained that June 19 is the day when Major General Gordon Granger led union soldiers into Galveston, Texas to bring news that the civil war had ended. Major General Granger also read an order that stated, in accordance with the Emancipation Proclamation, that all enslaved people are free and that former slave owners and enslaved people have equal personal and property rights.
"I believe this is often times known as the true end of slavery in the United States," Gov. Beshear said of June 19. "The date that the very last part of our country had this order read. Sadly, it was several years after the Emancipation Proclamation itself."
Executive Secretary of Cabinet Michael Brown read the proclamation before Beshear signed it. The transcription of the proclamation can be found below.
"Whereas, during the Civil War, over 200,000 African Americans fought bravely in the union armed forces to secure their freedom from slavery and preserve this union. Many sacrificed their lives for the ultimate freedom of their families. Whereas, Juneteenth, National Freedom Day, celebrates the events of June 19, 1865, when Major General Gordon Granger led union soldiers into Galveston, Texas to bring news that the Civil War had ended and to read general order No. 3, which stated that in accordance with President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, all enslaved African American people were free and entitled to absolute equality and personal and property rights. Whereas, following the statement, which unjustly came two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation, leaving African Americans enslaved even though President Lincoln had freed them, June 19 became the Emancipation date of enslaved African Americans who had long suffered and fought for freedom, justice and equality. Whereas, throughout America, Juneteenth celebrations are convened on June 19 to celebrate African American history, journey and culture. Whereas, Juneteenth commemorates the strength and courage of African Americans, the contributions of African Americans to the building of American institutions, wealth, innovations, and their ultimate triumph over extreme adversity through sheer determination and overwhelming tenacity. Whereas, Kentuckians must continue to work toward a more equitable and just Commonwealth while recognizing the horrors of slavery and its legacy. Whereas, recognition of Juneteenth reflects the Commonwealth's resounding belief of liberty and equality for every citizen. Now, therefore, I, Andy Beshear, governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, do hereby proclaim June 19, 2020, as Juneteenth, National Freedom Day, in the Commonwealth of Kentucky."